2008 Mexico City plane crash

2008 Mexico City plane crash
2008 Mexico City Interior Ministry plane crash

Cordoned-off crash site with burned buildings in background, with Mexican Police guarding the area
Accident summary
Date November 4, 2008 (2008-11-04)
Site Las Lomas, Mexico City
Passengers 5
Crew 3
Injuries 40 bystanders seriously injured[1]
1,200 residents evacuated[1]
30 cars destroyed[2]
Fatalities 16 (all 9 on board plus 7 on ground) [3]
Survivors 0[2]
Aircraft type Learjet 45
Operator Secretaría de Gobernación
Tail number XC-VMC
Flight origin Ponciano Arriaga International Airport, San Luis Potosí, S.L.P.
Destination Mexico City International Airport

An official Mexican Interior Ministry aircraft crashed in central Mexico City at around 18:45 local time on November 4, 2008. Mexican Secretary of the Interior Juan Camilo Mouriño,[4] who was aboard the plane, was killed in the crash, along with the other seven people on board and at least six people on the ground.[5]

The plane crashed in rush-hour traffic close to the intersection of Paseo de la Reforma and the Anillo Periférico, in the upscale Las Lomas residential and business district.



A picture of Reforma Avenue, the area in which the crash occurred

The Interior Secretariat-owned Learjet 45 (registration XC-VMC) left Ponciano Arriaga International Airport in San Luis Potosí, S.L.P., and was 12 km (7.5 mi)[6] short of landing at Mexico City International Airport when it crashed amidst rush-hour traffic into the ground in the heart of the financial district at approximately 18:45,[7] causing an explosion that "reached higher than the buildings."[8] According to Secretary of Communications and Transport Luis Téllez, there were no survivors.[9] Téllez also stated that the crash appeared to be an accident.[10]

The crash heavily damaged the surrounding area, setting multiple cars and a newsstand on fire[2] and injuring at least 40 people. Body parts were reported to be scattered around the wreckage.[11]

A Canadian-built Learjet-45


Among the dead was Secretary of the Interior Juan Camilo Mouriño, top aide to President Felipe Calderón.[12] Mouriño was in charge of the fight against the drug trade in Mexico.[11]

Also on the plane were:

  • José Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, former assistant attorney general and current head of the federal technical secretariat for implementing the recent constitutional reforms on criminal justice and public security.
  • Miguel Monterrubio, director general of social communications with the Interior Secretariat.
  • Arcadio Echeverría, coordinator of special events, office of the Interior Secretary.
  • Norma Díaz, director in the communications department of the Interior Secretariat.
  • Julio César Ramírez Dávalos, pilot.
  • Álvaro Sánchez, co-pilot.
  • Gisel Carrillo, stewardess.[13]

Government response

Police guard the crash site, with burned cars visible behind them.

President Felipe Calderón addressed the nation live on national television. He spoke of Mouriño as "one of his closest friends and collaborators" and conveyed his condolences to the family.[14] He stated that Mouriño was a man "who always fought to make Mexico a better country" and he guaranteed the nation that there would be an investigation on the causes behind the plane crash. Calderón encouraged Mexican men and women to continue fighting for a better country, "no matter how difficult or painful any rising event may be".[14]

Marcelo Ebrard, Head of Government of the Federal District, also conveyed his condolences to the family of the Secretary of Interior and assured that Mexico City's government would issue a statement to the nation regarding the issue.[15] Ebrard later said that the Mexico City government would give financial aid to all of the injured receiving medical care, irrespective of whether they had been admitted to private or public hospitals, and he stated that the local authorities had handed over all recordings taken by surveillance video cameras to the federal attorney general (PGR),[16] along with all witness accounts that local police were able to gather.

Several other political figures have made statements regarding the crash, including various senators from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)[17] and Germán Martínez, leader of the ruling National Action Party (PAN).[18]

A group of senators – from different political parties – have asked the Procuraduría General de la República (PGR) to investigate the accident so that all doubts and inquiries on the event may be cleared.[19]

Building under repair, two weeks after the crash.

Results of investigation

The black boxes were sent to the United States for analysis. Information gathered from 38 minutes of cabin conversations, along with video footage from a security camera on top of the Omega Office Building, provided evidence for an official statement by the Mexican Government that the crash was the result of pilot error. The Learjet was ruled to have been following too close to a Boeing 767-300 jet operated by Mexicana Airlines, and therefore suffered violent wake turbulence caused by the larger jet. The minimum allowable distance for a lighter plane to follow behind a heavier plane is 5 nautical miles (9.3 km); the Learjet was only 4.1 nautical miles (7.6 km) behind the Mexicana airplane.

Investigations into the accident have discovered several issues with the Mexican government's use of private contractors as pilots of government aircraft, especially important in cases such as this, when the passengers are high-level officials. Aviación Ejecutiva SA de CV is a company out of Toluca Mexico that currently holds the contract with the Mexican Federal government to provide services of maintenance and pilots for the federal airline fleet.

Benito Juarez Airport restricts light general aviation, which typically flies from Toluca International Airport. Only some government areas handle small and medium planes from facilities in Mexico City's Benito Juarez International Airport.

Several key elements of the accident have emerged during the investigation:

  • The flight crew appear to have had little experience in operation of the Learjet 45, and an investigation concerning how they received their certification is currently underway.
  • Conversation among the flight crew indicates that they had little familiarity with the operation of the plane; they failed on several occasions to enter the proper information into the cockpit instruments, did not follow a proper flight plan, and had navigational difficulties, missing their original arrival to San Luis Potosi by over 250 nautical miles (460 km). Further it was stated that their in-flight conversations were more of the nature of two people driving a car, not of trained pilots following a proper flight plan.
  • The flight crew waited over a minute to follow the order from air traffic control to reduce their velocity. The Learjet had been traveling at 262 knots (485 km/h), while the Mexicana 767-300 was flying at 185 knots (343 km/h), which caused the Learjet to get too close to the 767-300. The accident happened during peak hours at the airport with heavy air traffic; this has brought criticism of the handling and scheduling of risky flight plans for top government officials.
  • The accident happened just at the point where aircraft entering Mexico City traveling on a 160° course (south-southeast) make a sharp left turn to align with the runways of Benito Juarez International Airport, at 52° (northeast). When the Learjet reached the turning point, too close behind the Mexicana 767-300, it encountered violent wake turbulence, causing the plane to invert into a nose-down attitude. At this point, the plane would have been flying at 9,000 feet (2,700 m) MSL, which is about 1,700 feet (520 m) over the ground.
  • The flight crew was unable to regain control due to airspeed, inverted nose-down position, and insufficient altitude. The flight crew did manage to reduce the angle of descent from 45° to 40° before hitting the ground at over 300 miles per hour (480 km/h).


  1. ^ a b "Reporta GDF ocho muertos y 40 heridos de gravedad" (in Spanish). El Universal. 2008-04-11. http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/notas/552709.html. Retrieved 2008-05-11. 
  2. ^ a b c "3 dead, 5 injured in Mexico City plane crash". Xinhua News Agency. 2008-11-05. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-11/05/content_10309981.htm. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  3. ^ "16 Dead in Mexico Plane Crash". Mexico City: Latin American Herald Tribune. http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=323160&CategoryId=14091. Retrieved 2008-12-15. 
  4. ^ news.bbc.co.uk, BBC Profile: Juan Camilo Mourino
  5. ^ "Suman ya 14 muertos" (in Spanish). Mexico City: El Universal. 2008-11-06. http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/nacion/163544.html. Retrieved 2008-11-06. 
  6. ^ "Mike Charly, ¿escucha?... la respuesta jamás llegó". El Universal. 2008-11-06. http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/nacion/163543.html. Retrieved 2008-11-06. 
  7. ^ "Mexican minister dies in crash". Sunday Times. 2008-11-05. http://www.thetimes.co.za/News/Article.aspx?id=877881. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  8. ^ "Mexico minister 'killed' in crash". BBC News. 2008-11-05. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7709877.stm. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  9. ^ "Mexico interior minister aboard plane that crashed". Associated Press. 2008-11-05. http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5j-K-hAlJ07sX3xQ5xH6QZccbTMegD948GJI81. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  10. ^ "No Indications that Suggest a Hypothesis Other than that It was an Accident: SCT". Office of the President of Mexico. 2008-11-05. http://www.presidencia.gob.mx/en/press/?contenido=39891. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  11. ^ a b "Mexico's Interior Minister Killed in Plane Crash". Bloomberg Television. 2008-11-05. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601086&sid=ag.P4yqrtRWg&refer=latin_america. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  12. ^ "Mexico interior minister killed in plane crash: official". ABC News. 2008-11-05. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/11/05/2410929.htm?section=justin. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  13. ^ "Los tripulantes de la aeronave" (in Spanish). Mexico City: El Universal. 2008-11-04. http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/notas/552733.html. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  14. ^ a b "Ofrece Calderón condolencias a la familia de Mouriño" (in Spanish). Mexico City: El Universal. 2008-11-04. http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/notas/552723.html. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  15. ^ "Expresa Ebrard condolencias a familia de Mouriño" (in Spanish). Mexico City: El Universal. 2008-11-04. http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/notas/552718.html. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  16. ^ "Cubrirá GDF gastos médicos de heridos" (in Spanish). Mexico City: El Universal. 2008-11-05. http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/notas/553052.html. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  17. ^ "Manifiestan senadores priistas condolencias por muerte de Mouriño" (in Spanish). Mexico City: El Universal. 2008-11-04. http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/notas/552745.html. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  18. ^ "Lamenta Germán Martínez la pérdida de Juan Camilo Mouriño" (in Spanish). Mexico City: El Universal. 2008-11-04. http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/notas/552744.html. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  19. ^ "Piden senadores investigar a fondo muerte de Mouriño" (in Spanish). Mexico City: El Universal. 2008-11-04. http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/notas/552742.html. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 

External links

Coordinates: 19°25′35″N 99°12′13″W / 19.42639°N 99.20361°W / 19.42639; -99.20361

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